TORONTO, June 28, 2016 /CNW/ - The Police Association of Ontario (PAO) has submitted a White Paper to the Ontario Government titled Policing Matters: Submission On the Strategy For A Safer Ontario in the hopes the Wynne Government will not allow Ontario's municipalities to outsource professional policing.
The PAO is concerned municipal leaders will use the modernization of the Police Services Act as an underhanded way to privatize public safety instead of addressing the real issues of strong mental health support systems, dysfunctional Police Service Boards and exaggerated claims of escalating police costs.
"We agree an overhaul of the Police Services Act is long overdue as technologies have changed and the underfunding of health services means professional police officers are doing more than just preventing and solving crime," says PAO President, Bruce Chapman. "But, we have to make sure that some very vocal municipal leaders are not using this as an opportunity to cut costs that could significantly compromise public safety."
Chapman says recent comments by embattled London Mayor Matt Brown's claim that replacing professional police officers with private security will control escalating policing costs is factually incorrect. From the city's own budget figures, London's police budget is not escalating; it has remained between 10 and 12% of the city overall operating budget since 2001 – even at a time of economic and population growth.
"Less money for mental health addiction and poverty support services means more and more people are in crisis and a danger to themselves and their communities," says Chapman. "The reality is that police officers are the only people trained and prepared to manage situations that can easily escalate into violence. Our cities and communities need an adequately funded health care system working in partnership with professional police services to get those in crisis the help they need."
A survey conducted by Statistics Canada studying confidence levels in public and private institutions found police scored higher than school systems, justice systems/courts, and the Federal Parliament with a rating of 77%. [i]
"Contrary to the voices of some activist groups, Ontarians generally support their community police," says Chapman. "Municipal politicians looking for quick cuts should be aware their voters will want a full and transparent consultation process before they advocate for privatizing policing and cutting services – especially if it means compromising public safety. Ontarians deserve a properly funded and regulated policing system that prioritizes their well-being over municipal politics and private profits."
Chapman added the vast majority of the public are not on side with private security firms collecting data related to potential calls for service. In a study 1,010 Ontarians conducted by Research Inc. on behalf of the PAO in 2015, 74% said they were not comfortable with private security companies collecting and storing personal data. [i]
[i] Source: Statistics Canada: General Social Survey on Social Identity, 2013.
[i] Source: Public Perceptions of Police in Ontario: Final Report, 2015
SOURCE Police Association of Ontario
For further information: Bruce Chapman, PAO President, Cell: 905-599-4813, Email: [email protected]